An Unexpected Gift of Peace

An Unexpected Gift of Peace

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

An Unexpected Gift of Peace

Nothing ever succeeds which exuberant spirits have not helped to produce.

~Freidrich Nietzsche

September 11th will be remembered by all Americans as the date of a terrible national tragedy. Thousands of us who were airborne at the time will also have personal memories of becoming grounded and stranded. The most memorable event in my own life occurred the following day, September 12th.

“Your dad just called,” my husband, Dick, said solemnly, as I walked back into our house from visiting our neighbor. “Your mother suffered a stroke and has slipped into a coma.” It was Sunday afternoon, September 9th. I immediately called my father back and heard him repeat that my mother’s condition was critical.

The following morning, my father called again. “I think you should come as soon as possible,” he said. “It does not look like your mother will live much longer.” I told him that I would be on an airplane by that evening.

As with a lot of families today, many miles separate us from one another. But thanks to the world of aviation, getting on an airplane to go anywhere in the world has not only become a convenience but also an expected part of our lives. I was attempting to get to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from where I lived in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Whether it was fate or Murphy’s Law, something definitely seemed to be putting my trip to Tennessee in slow motion. The commuter plane that I was taking to reach a major airport was late leaving. I could not make a connection by the time I finally reached the Albuquerque airport. Consequently, I spent the night at a hotel there. Early the next morning, I was on a flight to Phoenix, where I would connect with another flight to Nashville. It was while I was on the Phoenix-bound flight that the horrific plane crashes occurred. The plane I was on landed, but those passengers who had connecting flights became stranded. An announcement in the terminal simply told us to go to baggage claim for our luggage.

Being informed by others in the terminal of what had occurred within the past hour, their faces aghast as they focused on a television showing scenes of the plane crashes in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, I went to get my luggage. Passengers were lined up in the baggage-claim area to make calls on the hotel shuttle phones, in hope of finding a hotel that still had vacancies.

Upon checking into a hotel and settling in, I called my husband to let him know where I was. As the whole country seemed glued to the television that day, I, too, watched in horror and wondered how long I would be stranded in Phoenix. During the night, I was awakened by a phone call. My mother had died.

Early Wednesday morning, September 12th, I was informed that no planes were yet allowed in the air. Needing to purchase some items, I walked a quarter of a mile from the hotel to a shopping center. Walking slowly back to the hotel, I started to feel very distraught. All I could think about was how our country had been attacked by an evil force, my mother had died a few hours earlier, I couldn’t get there before she passed away and didn’t know how long I might be stranded. Grief began to overwhelm me.

Out of the blue, a beautiful white dove flew down and began walking with me. The dove continued to turn its head and look at me as we walked. I smiled through my tears and became increasingly aware that something very unusual was happening. “Are you from Heaven?” I asked the dove, as we walked, and instantly thought, “Gosh, I’m talking to a bird!” The dove just continued to walk with me and look at me.

I unexpectedly began feeling that my mother’s spirit was with me. When I reached the hotel, the dove and I looked at each other once more. A peace and warmth came over my entire being, and I felt God had just given me a special gift. Tranquility had replaced my feelings of fear, loneliness and desperation. I knew that God was still in control of this world.

I went back into my hotel room and called my husband. He had driven that morning to El Paso, Texas, attempting to get on a flight to Nashville. Being told that there would be no flights that day, he was booked on a flight for the next morning out of Midland, Texas. As a result, he drove the three-hour trip back home to Carlsbad. Later in the evening, he started driving to Midland to stay at a motel near the airport in order to be on an early flight the next morning. Hearing the news that flights were cancelled for the next day also, Dick turned around and drove all night to reach Phoenix the next morning. He later told me how very aware he was of God being with him in the car as he drove the 1,000 miles to reach me.

We both felt God’s presence as we drove all day, all night, all the next day (another 1,900 miles in thirty-one hours), arriving one hour before the family was to receive friends at the funeral home. The funeral service immediately followed, and we were able to share with others my unexpected gift of peace.

~Linda Lipinski

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